White House

Idaho's Crapo will serve on Obama's debt commission

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has been selected as one of six congressional Republicans for the debt-reduction commission created last month by President Barack Obama.

The 18-member commission will be made up of 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans. It must make nonbinding recommendations to Congress by Dec. 1 on how to balance the federal budget by 2015.

"This commission has an historic opportunity to deal with some of our nation's most pressing problems using common-sense solutions," Crapo said in a statement.

Crapo, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, was one of the original co-sponsors of New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg's proposal to create a budget commission with more sweeping powers than the one created by Obama's executive order. But Crapo and other Republicans ended up voting against their own proposal because they feared the commission might decide to raise taxes to tackle the deficit.

Obama has said that "everything is on the table," including raising taxes and cutting Medicare and Social Security.

The original proposal would have required Congress to vote up or down on proposals from the commission, but the weaker Obama-created panel has no such requirement. Congress can amend any recommendations from the commission, filibuster them, or ignore them outright.

Regardless, there's "no question of the need to eliminate our debt and deficit," Crapo said.

Economists warn that the size and growing scale of the national debt threatens the country's security by forcing the U.S. to depend on China and other countries to buy Treasury bonds. This year, the federal deficit is expected to reach $1.56 trillion.